For the Love of Spring

Most folks might not immediately claim late winter/early spring to be an exciting time of year. After all it’s cold and sometimes dreary; college football is over; the big holidays are past; and summer’s still a ways off. But if you pay attention and look closely, you’ll start spotting that most inspiring of colors in the landscape: spring green. The earliest of shoots and buds are starting to appear. If they are already getting to work in your yard, you might as well join them.

There are plenty of tasks you can and should attend to outside in February and March. Here’s a quick rundown of some of them.

For your garden:
• Start seeds for the plants you’d like to grow entirely “from scratch” for your garden that would benefit from an early start.

• Plant cold-hardy plants like lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, spinach, beets, and radishes. After the danger of frost has passed, tender varieties can go in. In Birmingham, our average risk of frost runs through the first week of April.

For your yard:
• Plant trees and shrubs.

• Carefully water new plantings of shrubs and trees if we hit a dry patch. They need time to become established.

• Prune trees and shrubs—but wait to prune early blooming shrubs until after they have bloomed.

• You can cut some branches off your early blooming shrubs to force blossoms indoors.

• Freshen your yard’s pine straw mulch.

• Fill your porch pots with a variety of cool-weather-loving flowers, such as pansies, violas, snapdragons, nemesia and alyssum, which will be available at garden centers.

• Check and repair your gardening and yard tools.

• Remember to refill your birdfeeders.

• Clean water features/fountains.

• Give your houseplants (except for fuzzy leafed ones like African violets) a gentle shower in the sink.

• Now’s a good time to start a gardening journal. Get an outdoor thermometer and rain gauge too. Keep up with what’s happening in your yard and garden.

With Easter and Mother’s Day on the horizon, it’s a perfect time to gift someone you love with plants, cool pots, or garden supplies that they will be able to enjoy for a long time to come. Enjoy this time of transition and awakening.

Article written by Jill Walton, a Mt Laurel resident. Jill Walton has a degree in journalism from the University of Alabama and worked at Southern Living magazine after graduating. With moves to Ohio and New York, she worked in advertising and earned a master gardening certification through Cornell University’s cooperative extension program before moving back to Alabama and becoming a stay-at-home mom.